"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.
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Saturday, 7 March 2009
Australian Battles Topic: BatzA - Australia
Australian Battles, 1899 - 1920
Over the two decades covered by this site, there were 2 recorded battles fought on Australian soil. While this list is incomplete the number of further additions will be few. These battles illustrate all aspects of the Australian character.
The role of the Light Horse in these battles during this period needs to be placed in that context, ensuring that it is not overstated but also not understated too.
The compiled list is in two parts, the first being a chronological list in strict date order while the second is in alphabetical order. The aim is to allow a ready reference to a specific battle by date or name.
1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Motor Dash on Aleppo - Part 3 Topic: AIF - Cars
1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF
THE MOTOR DASH ON ALEPPO
This is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224MSS 209. This is Part 3.
The Motor Dash on Aleppo - Part 3
There was no sign of the car with the white flag returning and it was decided that McIntyre must have been taken prisoner but after about four hours absence he returned with a reply.
This was to the effect that the Turkish Commandant of the town could not reply to the demand as he would have to communicate with Constantinople for instructions. However, the reply showed weakness. We found out afterwards that the Turks chief fear was of the hoards of Arabs hovering around as these gentry were always ready to fall on the defeated side and cut the throats of as many as possible. The Turks were very nervous about these fellows and although we found them useless as fighters they were indirectly of use on account of their reputation. That evening as we stood on the hills watching the city fires began to break out everywhere, explosions occurred in the city and railway stations and yards.
Then we knew that the bluff had worked and the Turks were preparing to evacuate. We could see railway trains leaving the other side of the town. The sky was lit up over the town all night. Next morning we drove into the city without opposition and as the last train drove out of the town with Turkish troops on one side the armoured cars and Light Car Patrols drove in along the road on the other side to the accompaniment of cheers and the usual banging of rifles of the inhabitants. As we drove into the town an enterprising moving picture operator took views of the column entering and a few days afterwards we saw views of the entry of the town at the local cinema theatre.
A peculiar feature about the operations of the day before during the manoeuvring of the cars outside the town was the fact that although the enemy batteries shelled us heavily and although nearly every one in the Light Car patrols received a pellet of some description, nobody was hurt.
Some of the bullets seemed to have no penetrating power and did not even penetrate the uniforms. Lieut. Cornwall picked a pellet out of his Sam Brown belt that would have gone through the region of the heart if it had only had enough power. Numbers of splinters and pellets next day were dug out of the woodwork on the cars while one driver got one on the knuckles of his hand when driving, making him momentarily release the steering wheel with a yell but beyond a slight cut his hand was uninjured. We came to the conclusion afterwards that the shrapnel must have been stuff that had been kept for many years and had lost its power, fortunately for us.
However, Aleppo was the Grand Finale of the best stunt we had had. By this time the advance men of the Mounted division were well on our heels and we soon had a strong force in the town, although nothing like the number of troops that had just left it. For the first couple of days we had to quieten the Arab and Bedouin looters who started to rob all the inhabitants of the town as soon as the Turks withdrew but we soon had these fellows under control.
The capture of Aleppo took place on the 26th October. The Turks withdrew to the North West and established a line of trenches about 15 miles out. The division followed took up positions outside the town across the road to Alexendretta. The armoured cur batteries and light car patrols taking up their share of this work.
The armoured cars attempted a reconnaissance a few days afterwards to test the Turkish defences. They found that the enemy had blown up all the culverts and bridges along the road and had dug trenches and pits at narrow crossings to make it difficult for vehicles to traverse. They got wall shelled all along the road and found that the enemy was in strength and after about an hour of this they returned to camp intending to try other routes later on but on the 31st October at noon an Armistice was declared with Turkey and all fighting was off.
Bert Schramm's Diary, 7 March 1919 Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, 2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, a farmer from White's River, near Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular, kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September 1918 breakout by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.
Bert Schramm's Diary, 7 March 1919
Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 5 - 8 March 1919
[Click on page for a larger print version.]
Friday, March 7, 1919
Bert Schramm's Location - Moascar, Egypt.
Bert Schramm's Diary - Have been busy nearly all day getting our camp fixed up. Things may not be too bad when one we get settled down but there doesn't seem much chance of getting home for some time yet. I received quite a big mail today, several letters from Lucy and some from nearly all of the family and they all seem to be doing well.
Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Official British History Account, Pt 6 Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915
Suez Canal Attack
Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915
Official British History Account, Pt 6
The following is an extract from:
MacMunn, G., and Falls, C., Military Operations Egypt & Palestine - From the Outbreak of War with Germany to June 1917, London, 1928, pp. 33 - 34.
ENGINEER WORK ON THE CANAL DEFENCES.
The construction of the Suez Canal Defences prior to the Turkish attack was a work of great difficulty owing to the shortage of Engineer units. There were available:
(1) Divisional Engineers, East Lancashire Division (Nos. 1 and 2 Field Companies);
(2) Queen Victoria's Own Sappers and Miners (No. 10 Field Company);
(3) Australian Divisional Engineers (No. 3 Field Company, detached from the division at Cairo);
(4) Military Works Department, Egyptian Army (an unarmed detachment of about 110 all ranks and a small mobile section mounted on camels);
(5) The 128th Pioneers.
Of these, one of the Territorial field companies was withdrawn from the Canal on 6th January 1915; and the other did not arrive till 6th February, after the attack. The Q.V.O. Sappers and Miners were not present till the 22nd December 1914, nor the Australian Engineers till mid-January. Thus, when the bulk of the work was in hand, only two field companies were available, and for about ten days in the middle of January only one, for two divisions defending a front of 95 miles. There were no Engineer officers available as C.R.E. or Field Engineers, save a single R.E. officer, Captain R. E. M. Russell, lent by the Egyptian Army, who was attached to the headquarters of the G.O.C. Canal Defences. The shortage of skilled supervision had its result in a lower standard of work on the trenches and posts than would have been the case with a normal engineer establishment. Fortunately, the State Railways and Telegraphs Departments were largely managed by ex-officers of the Royal Engineers, and undertook many of the duties which would, in ordinary circumstances have been carried out by Engineer units of the Force in Egypt.
The principal works carried out were, first, the laying out and construction of trenches on the west bank and of bridgeheads on the east bank. Secondly, there was the bridging, which included the construction and working of lighter bridges at El Qantara and El Kubri, a boat bridge at Ismailia Ferry Post, and eight bridges over the Sweet Water Canal. The Engineer units were also employed on the construction of aeroplane hangars; the laying on of filtered water to the camps at Moascar, Ismailia, and Suez ; the distribution of filtered water by boat from the Canal Company's filters at Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez to the posts on the Canal; the storage of two days' supplies of water at 1 1/2 gallons per head in these posts; the cutting of the Canal bank for the inundations described in this chapter; the drawing of large-scale maps of the defences and for use with range-marks by the land and Naval artillery, for which they had the assistance of a Survey Section equipped by the Egyptian Survey Department ; the installation of searchlights for the armoured train, and at Qantara, Ismailia Ferry Post and El Kubri. The mobile section accompanied reconnaissances on several occasions, prepared landing grounds for aeroplanes, drained water pools and controlled the water supply during expeditions into the desert.
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary, 24 June to 2 July 1916 Topic: Gm - Bk - 605 MGC
German 605th Machine Gun Company (MGC)
War Diary, 24 June to 2 July 1916
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary, 24 June to 2 July 1916
Early today field firing, but since the ammunition boxes are too low, many cartridges were dented and in consequence there were many stoppages. After the firing several belts were overhauled and the damaged cartridges removed. This afternoon a German armourer arrived and watched the M. guns shooting and ascertained that the rifle oil from Germany was too thin and in consequence soon burnt out. We then got a thicker oil from the Turkish depot with which the machine guns shot very well. As the angle lever of all the locks worked too heavily they had to be adjusted. In several of the locks the mechanism failed as they did not come back.
This forenoon - testing 4 M. guns. In the afternoon a holiday for the Turks whilst the Germans do fatigues.
Battle practice early this morning, then instruction. In the afternoon refilling belts and a little drill in the evening.
Battle practice early this morning, then refilling of belts. In the afternoon M. gun practice.
Battle practice early this morning, then instruction. In the afternoon cartridges were put in belts by the Germans and the Turks had a holiday.
(Translation notes apparently a new "cartridge" was used.)
Battle practice early this morning, then refilling of belts. In the afternoon rifle cleaning in connection with ball practice with M. guns. Today we received 1 Turkish officer.
Holiday for the Turks. Germans had bathing. In the afternoon we had to fill cartridge belts.
Strength of company - 1 officer, 12 N.C.O.'s., 14 men; Turks - 1 officer and 75 O.R., including N.C.O.'s. Early this morning we paraded for inspection by His Excellency Djemal Pasha, commanding the 4th Turkish Army. In the afternoon packing up our pack chests for the impending expedition.
This morning battle practice and belt filling. In the afternoon practice shoot for the Turks.
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